Commentary: Celebrity adoptions, winning the lottery

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 Before you check out your groceries, you have to pass a rack featuring celebrity magazines with headlines about the Hollywood lifestyle: cheating, betrayal, split ups, multiple marriages, tax problems, financial problems, legal problems, drugs, alcohol and too-fast cars. The image presented is pretty ugly.  But, whether we like to admit it or not, celebrity lifestyles have some influence on our culture and the behavior of the rest of us.  I’d like to start 2016 on a positive note, so let me suggest there is one feature of celebrity life that might be applauded.  I’m talking about celebrity adoptions.  Some we hear about, but most are under the radar.  First of all, what’s in it for the children? 

I was involved in an adoption a few years ago when the parents, grandparents and relatives gathered for the hearing.  When the hearing was over and everybody was celebrating with an adoption cake, one of the grandpas made this statement: “That kid may not realize it yet, but he just won the jackpot.”  Nothing in life is a cinch, but most adoptions are win-win events: the kids win and the parents win.  Probably the highest profile celebrity adoptions were the adoptions by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.  Regardless of what you may think of Jolie and Pitt, you have to admit that the three children they have adopted, one from Cambodia, one from Vietnam and one from Ethiopia, probably have it better now than they did in the countries of their origin.  Can you imagine the life of an orphan in Cambodia, Vietnam or Ethiopia?  Madonna has adopted three children too, all born in Malawi, Africa.   The adoption wasn’t a simple matter.  Malawi didn’t have adoption laws and Madonna wasn’t a resident.  She was advised against attempting to adopt the children.  Her first attempt was a failure.  She appealed.  Eventually, she was required to serve as a foster parent for 18 months before the adoption could be approved.  Finally, as a result of her efforts, three children now have a home in America and Malawi has new adoption laws.  

Jilian Michaels made a trip to Haiti where she visited orphanages.  I have visited an orphanage in Haiti, and believe me, any kid rescued  from that place has won the jackpot.  She saw lots of children and eventually fell in love with one little orphan girl.  But she couldn’t bring her home for six months.  What a blessing. But she named the girl Lukensia which may or may not have been a favor.  Many of the adoptions are mixed-race adoptions.  Actress Mariska Hargitay, the butt-kicking Law and Order detective, and her husband deliberately chose to make mixed-race adoptions of a boy and girl.  Michelle Pfeiffer did the same thing.  Pfeiffer says “I was shocked at the prejudice, voiced in some quarters, over my decision to adopt a mixed-race baby.  It’s really surprising that people put so much emphasis on it.  None of us is pure anything — we’re all a mixture.”  Adoptions of children from foreign countries take the longest and are the most expensive.  Kristin Davis’ daughter came from China.  Meg Ryan also has a daughter from China and Mary Louise Parker has one from Africa.  Katherine Heigl’s little girl came from South Korea.  It took over a year and the child could not leave South Korea until she had open heart surgery and Heigl and her husband had worked their way through a 40 page questionnaire.  What’s in it for the parents?  Publicity?  An adoption seems like a long, hard route to publicity. 

Actress Viola Davis, who played the servant in “The Help,” said “It’s just given me a purpose, you know?  After a while your life can’t be about hair and makeup and what film you’re doing next and if your reviews are good or not.”  It seems that adopted parents are motivated by genuine caring for the children.  Jamie Lee Curtis has adopted a boy and a girl.  She says “Birthdays are very hard for adopted children.  For everyone else it’s a celebrations of the moment of birth, but for adopted children, it’s the remembrance of a birth family that they don’t have.  Curtis has written a children’s book Tell Me About the Night I Was Born that has been helpful for adoptive families.  Sharon Stone has three adopted sons.  She also “adopted” a set of parents whom she met through philanthropic work who lost two adult children of their own (who also happened to be adopted) through tragic circumstances.  Do adoptions go faster if you happen to be a celebrity?  Do they get special treatment?  The stars say no.  Sheryl Crow has two adopted children.  She wanted to adopt a third, but the process took so long, she gave up.  But having money helps.  Many stars have provided direct support to orphanages.  Anne Reese is the Executive Director of the Center for Adopted Policy.  She says that celebrities do not get special treatment but that their adoptions are a positive factor for the adoption process as a whole.  So if you want to do a celerity act, don’t get your ideas from any of the check out magazines at the grocery store.  You need look no further than this article.  Rescue a foreign orphan or an American foster child for a win-win result — a jackpot.